The House of Dead Maids
By Clare B. Dunkle
Henry Holt, 2010. 146 pgs. Young Adult
Eleven-year-old Tabby Aykroyd, who would later serve as housekeeper for thirty years to the Brontë sisters, is taken from an orphanage to a ghost-filled house, where she and a wild young boy are needed for a pagan ritual.
Dunkle’s novel is a fast, enjoyable read and maintains a consistently unsettling atmosphere throughout. The book cover claims the novel is “A Chilling Prelude to Wuthering Heights,” and Dunkle ties the story to the Brontë family in the last few pages; however, I found this maneuvering unfortunate and gimmicky. The book could easily stand alone as a dark glimpse into pagan Victorian England and only loses credibility by trying to piggyback on the Brontës’ fame.